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Introduction to Homeopathy




The homeopathic materia medica comprises some two thousand different substances and many of the remedies have thousands of symptoms. The major remedies, recommended in the homeopathy section of Health Conditions (Health Plus™), are detailed briefly with a few of their more prominent symptoms.

The fundamental basis of homeopathy, which was founded by Samuel Hahnemann is: "similia similibus curentur" (that like cures like). If taking a particular substance induces a certain range of symptoms, similar to those of a disease, that substance, in homeopathic form, may provide a cure. Classically, there will be a "homeopathic proving" of the effect of the substance on healthy volunteers.

Remedies are produced from the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, as well as "imponderabilia," such as X rays. Of course, there is some overlapping between these kingdoms: e.g. Calcarea carbonica, or calcium carbonate, is a mineral salt from oyster shell, rather than mineral deposits.

Some of the most frequently used minerals in homeopathic remedies, are: sulfur, natrum muriaticum (sodium chloride, or table salt), cuprum (copper), and Silicea (silica). Other minerals, such as arsenic, mercury, and phosphorus, are extremely poisonous, yet, when they are prepared as homeopathic potencies, their toxicity is removed and they have broad application. Through the process of potentization, hitherto unsuspected properties are brought out in such substances, and they can then be used as medicines.

Similarly, plants like: Belladonna, chamomilla, and ipecacuanha, have been valued over centuries for their medicinal properties. Interestingly, Belladonna has also been used as a poison, as have: aconite, nux- vomica (strychnine) and others. The vegetable remedies also include plants whose medicinal value was virtually unknown before they were used by homeopaths: e.g. Lycopodium.

Generally, food plants are not employed as homeopathic remedies, except the onion. The materia medica also includes some incompletely proved foods, such as: cane sugar celery, grapefruit and tomato. Hering observed that many chronic diseases of women and children result from having too much sugar.

The animal-derived remedies are particularly interesting including from: bees, various poisonous snakes, and tarantulas. Sepia, the ink of the cuttlefish, was considered inert before its introduction by Hahnemann.

Nosodes, are derived from disease material: pus, bacteria, etc. They are usually identified by the suffix -inum. Before vaccination was introduced into allopathy, homeopaths had already been potentizing some disease products, such as lyssin, the saliva of the rabid (hydrophobic) dog, to treat victims of the respective diseases. Employment of a substance that is identical with the disease, rather than a substance that is similar, is known as isopathy.

Isopathy enjoyed considerable popularity in the United States during the time when the idea of vaccination became widespread but today American homeopaths prefer to prescribe on the totality of the patient's symptoms rather than on the basis of a suspected disease-producing organism. Potencies of influenzinum, or influenza virus, may be prepared to confer immunity on patients in a flu epidemic.

They are used not only to break up the lingering effects of a disease, such as flu or tuberculosis, but also to reach deep into the constitutional pattern of a patient and clear a chronic miasm that was implanted long in the past through exposure to a disease, through vaccination, or through inheritance. Thus, for example, medorrhinurn (from gonorrhea), psorinum (from scabies), syphilinum (from syphilis), and tuberculinum (from tuberculosis) are reported to be helpful in many cases when there is a history of infection, either in the individual patient or in his parents.

When a homeopathic remedy fails to act, homeopaths often report that the appropriate nosode, determined from the patient's history, will either clear up the case by itself or cause the patient to respond subsequently to the indicated remedy. Nosodes are similarly credited with breaking up the periodicity of chronic diseases; whereas each individual flare-up of a chronic condition may respond to the proper remedy, it may take a nosode to prevent recurrence.

Polychrests ("many uses") have produced a wide range of symptoms in provers, and therefore have a broad range of application. The term was coined by Hahnemann from the Greek, and was first used in his 1817 article on nux vomica in volume 2 of the Materia Medica Pura.

"Laws of Cure".

The "Father" of American homeopathy (Constantine Hering) is credited with formulating three observations, or the "Laws of Cure".

First Law:

The human body seeks to externalize disease. Therefore, diseases move from internal to external. The homeopath, consequently, is pleased to see an outbreak of e.g. eczema, as evidence not that the disease is worsening, as the patient is inclined to think but that the condition is responding to treatment!

This contrasts quite markedly with the allopathic approach, which is to remove skin blemishes with e.g. cortisone and neglect the underlying disease process, entirely.

Second Law:

Healing progresses from the top of the body to the body (cephalo-caudally). The homeopathic physician will carefully observe the amelioration of symptoms, deriving Confirmation: that the treatment is achieving success, rather than suppressing symptoms. Head, or upper body conditions, then, should ameliorate before those in the lower body.

Third Law:

Healing proceeds in the reverse chronological order.

This can be a bizarre (and worrying) experience for the patient. Some diseases manifest with a succession of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Some symptoms may appear to come and go away, just as mysteriously in the normal course of events. With homeopathic treatment, when successful, these symptoms may reappear, in the reverse order. The patient may become concerned that they are getting worse, as something they had thought they had previously overcome, has returned. The patient may be forewarned of this and patiently endure the speedy recovery (within 3 days) and gradual reclamation of good health.

Safety & Toxicity

Homeopathic medicines are non-toxic with no known side effects.

Preparation & Administration

Even though homeopathic remedies contain minute amounts of the key preparation, these amounts are very specific and cover a wide range.

Homeopathic medicines were officially recognized by the FDA in 1938 as approved drugs. All official preparations are listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS).

These medicines classically are in the form of pellets (tiny beads) although liquids (tinctures), as well as tablets, ointments and suppositories, are also marketed.

Pellets and liquids are usually taken sublingually, taking advantage of the rich blood supply in the mouth.

Pellets are made of sucrose, lactose, or both. These ingredients are pure, dissolve easily and facilitate the absorption of the medicinal substance contained within.

Preparation of a remedy:

The remedy begins with a base substance, say a plant. The plant will be immersed in alcohol to take up the chemicals within the plant. This becomes the "Mother tincture". For children, or others, who do not want alcohol, distilled water, glycerine or vinegar may be used.

The tincture may be assigned a value of 1, being a whole. If the Mother tincture is then diluted with nine parts alcohol, or water, it becomes 1:10 or 1X potency. Each further dilution, 1 part previous solution plus 9 parts alcohol or water, takes it to the next level: 2X, 3X etc. These are called the X, or decimal potencies. Therefore, 6X signifies 1 part per million (101, 1002, 1,0003, 10,0004 , 100,0005, 1,000,000 6). This also equates to 1 drop per 14 gallons!

Following the same procedure, except with 1 part Mother tincture and 99 parts alcohol or water, yields a C, or centesimal potency: 1C. Adding 99 parts alcohol, or water, to the previous solution (1C) yields 2C, 3C, 30C, 200C etc.

According to Avogadro’s Law, when the medicine reaches 12C or 24X potency, there are no remaining molecules of the original base substance left. Viewed biochemically, then, allopathic doctors have always been skeptical about homeopathy. However, recent advances in quantum physics have opened up the realization that an energy may be imparted from the base and on to the patient even at extremely high dilutions.

Paradoxically, the higher potencies are considered to be "stronger", having a more intense effect and are normally only prescribed by experienced practitioners. They may be indicated mostly for chronic conditions (e.g. 200X). Lower potencies (6C, 6X, 12X or 30C) are on sale in health food stores. These are ideal for sudden illnesses with well known symptoms, the annual bout of ‘flu, the seasonal cold etc. They are also recommended for a crisis or first aid.

In fact the medicines are also "activated" by a physical process. Between each dilution stage, the preparations are vigorously shaken, or tapped on the hand (succussed), thereby causing molecular agitation. This process is called "potentization". The story goes that old time homeopaths noticed that the medicines they carried around with them seemed more potent than fresh stock from the shelves. The reason seemed to be the shaking they received on the roads.

In "Classical" Homeopathy, one remedy was sought. In some modern versions a "shotgun" approach is taken, so that there is more chance of success with less need for symptom taking, or interpretation. Thus, several remedies may be combined together, as in "Homotoxicology". Another variation on such compounding, is to have a single remedy but made from several potencies, blended together, termed: "multiple potencies".

R. Gibson Miller in his book: "Relationship of Remedies" outlines 4 methods for administering the remedies:

1. Sequentially, one remedy at a time;
2. Concurrently, two or more remedies, possibly in a prepared combination ("Polypharmacy");
3. (1) and (2) i.e. the basic remedy plus a concurrent remedy, which is subject to change;
4. Alternately - two, or more, remedies at intervals (of 10 minutes to hours). The best-known example is a base of oscillococcinum with "A, B, C" (i.e. Aconite, Belladonna and Chamomile) for influenza and fevers.